Coding For Kids

Gallup’s GET HIP program teaches students software, coding skills

Rodney Edwards, Staff Writer

While computer science isn’t the first thing students think of when they hear the phrase “get hip,” the Gallup Consulting Company is set to change that.
First created in 2013, GET HIP, short for “Gallup’s Engineering Task- High School Innovation Program,” teaches students software development skills and coding languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript.
“As most people know there is a shortage of skilled STEM workers to fill the growing demand in the field. Gallup created GET HIP as a way to expose high school students to become interested in technology,” program head Jodi Kennedy said.
Recruitment for the program has been increasingly successful. The program officially started in 2014 with 14 students accepted into the program. As of 2017, the program has quadrupled, totaling 52 students, hearing about it through word of mouth, emails and flyers. The programs have students from all over the Metro, six of which are MN students.
“I learned about the program after googling ‘tech internships for high schoolers in Omaha,’” senior Rohan Thakker said.
He and five other MN students attend; since the program is for all high school students, the younger students have the chance to repeat the program.
The program has two sessions: a fall session and a spring session. Students meet weekly to discuss objectives over the six week session. The fall session focuses on computer science basics such as data sorting, version control and document databases. The spring session focuses on a group project: the development of a mobile app and website. Once the idea has been discussed and voted on, the Gallup staff take over.
“We split them into groups for their winter project and they bring that idea to life into a website,” Kennedy said.
Examples include a food service app, an online agenda, and even a new social media site. Several of the students enjoy the brainstorming and teamwork necessary to complete these projects.
“My project was a chess ranking calculator. I like the game chess in general and I really enjoyed working with the other kids,” freshman Yash Fichadia said.
Freshmen like Fichadia work with older students who serve as group leaders. Because the program allows students to join with no technology experience, this system grants students of all levels valuable skills and benefits.
“My group created a birthday gift delivery and automation service. To create that, we had to learn the best ways that people find volunteers and organize events,” Thakker said.
The students find that besides computer science skills, they are also learning about teamwork and communication.
“It gives you a lot of experience working as a team and with programming. Everyone is nice and friendly, so it makes you want to go back next year,” Fichadia said.
Not only do older students provide guidance, but Gallup’s managers, lead developers and college mentors give the students exposure and networking opportunities. The sentiment of teaching students pervades through the program, no matter the skill level.
“There are no technical requirements for this innovation program- just the ability to want to learn,” Kennedy said.
These benefits are stated to help not only students in school but also later in life in pursuing careers in computer science. While the program only lasts 14 weeks, the skills each student gains from the experience will last a lifetime.